The Smell of Success
We talk to Megan Nurse of Bridget's Flowers
With as many farms as eating establishments in the county, the farm-to-fork concept is an obvious match for Norfolk – it cuts out food miles and supports local businesses making it win-win. But admittedly this makes the job harder for chefs who need to come up with several inventive dishes for the same produce – how many ways can you present asparagus, for example? They must relish the change in season.
This concept works well for the florist industry too – companies driving to growers’ fields to select seasonal bunches to use. But do the growers have sufficient variety for florist’s to work with. I pose to the question to Megan Nurse of Bridget’s Flowers: “We do have to import some flowers from Holland,” she admits as we drive in her branded van to the first grower. “This is particularly the case during the wedding season when brides ask for certain flowers. But I try and use locally-grown flowers where I can,” she adds.
Flowers hailing from Norfolk this season, she tells me, include Sunflowers, Lily’s, Hydrangeas, Sweet Williams, Stocks, Phlox, Astas, Alstromeria, Sweet Peas and Agaphantus (I haven’t heard of half of these). During the year, you will also find Tulips, Daffodils, Peonies and Anemonies, to name but a few. It seems Norfolk’s larder is replete in flowers, as well as food.
As we pull up to the first growers, the rain is bucketing it down, and I’m gutted – I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to drive through fields of corn in the hazy sunshine. With massive puddles forming all over the place, Megan grabs her pre-ordered bunches of Lissianthus and we head off to the next place.
The second growers we arrive at is much bigger; inside a domed roof, several workers are busy operating trimming machines, collecting flowers into bunches and packing them up into nice boxes. In the next dome are rows and rows of flowers being watered – the smell is intoxicating and I love the purple and cream hues of the seasonal Stocks shown below.
The rain slows down to a patter as we drive back to Bridget’s Flowers to use the flowers we have collected. Her store is lovely – all grey-wood floors and shabby-chic design. It’s spacious, too, with a lovely window display, a whitewashed brick wall which she uses as backdrop for photographs and walls covered in reels of beautiful, silky ribbons.
Opened by her mum in 1983, Bridget’s Flowers covers all aspects of floral design – from individual bunches to take home for your mum or girlfriend to full flower arrangements. In 2014, Megan launched a series of workshops designed for people wishing to improve their knowledge of floristry in a relaxed setting. A year later, she launched a fabulous event dressing service, including flowers for weddings, parties and corporate occasions – even tips on adding a little sparkle to your home at Christmas time.
The weddings side of things really took off – the company did the flowers for 60 weddings last year; this year that number will rise to over 80 (and that’s just between March and December). Unsurprisingly, Megan is doing the flowers for a wedding on Saturday (I do hope the weather improves) so I ask her to create one of the bouquets for the big day using the flowers we picked.
Without even thinking about it – and while chatting to me throughout – Megan puts together a beautiful arrangement of Alstromeria, Gladioli, Sweet peas, Lissianthus and Gypsophila (the only one of the bunch not grown in Norfolk), taking about 10 minutes in all. Trimming the ends off, she stands it up – it’s so sturdy it can stay upright up without a vase. I had no idea a bouquet could do that!
As I’m wearing a white dress, Megan positions me against the photo wall and snaps me holding the lovely bouquet.
Even better, we’re currently sourcing a pic of the bouquet in situ at last Saturday’s wedding – watch this space.
So, it seems the ‘field-to-folk’ concept can indeed be used for florists. It needs a different name though: in the case of wedding flowers, I’m coining: ‘field-to-fingers’. You never know, like the bridesmaids at Saturday’s wedding, it could well be a catch.